A FIREFIGHTER is now waving goodbye to his career in Hampshire after 25 years working in the region’s fire service.

Station commander Steve Buchanan-Lee, 54, has worked at fire stations in Basingstoke, St Mary’s in Southampton, Redbridge Hill, Eastleigh, and was on the National Fire Chief Council at the Home Office, before he joined Southsea Fire Station.

Having originally been born in Lancaster, he first discovered the city when he studied geology at University of Southampton, and then went on to do teacher training at Oxford University.

Later becoming a nursery school teacher in Northern Ireland, he then “stumbled into the fire service” when he was 28, and put a job application in for a Hampshire-based role after a friend recommended the job to him.

Steve, who lives in Southampton, said: “I came to Hampshire and they gave me a transfer position. I worked at a number of stations and being a teacher allowed me to use a lot of the same skills in the fire service.

“My role as a nursery teacher was a very fulfilling and equally nice job to do, but I then put in an application, stumbled into the fire service, and off we went.”

Steve said a recent job tackling an explosion at Bitterne Firework Factory was a “really significant” memory for him.

He added: “Most recently, there was the Bitterne firework fire. It was a really significant event, as it was unusual that the fireworks all went off at once, and there was a massive explosion.

“My most memorable times have been whilst serving on stations, and in particular as Station Commander at Eastleigh and more recently at Southsea.

“The teams were fantastic as they are both professional firefighters and amazing people - always going above and beyond to serve the communities of Hampshire - it is after all, all about the people.”

His colleague and watch manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, Lacey Plumbley, said: “Steve has been a huge part of Hampshire fire a

nd rescue service. His dedication and enthusiasm for people, their development and well being is something that will always stand Steve apart from the rest.

“His passion for the job and his commitment to the people of Hampshire has been amazing. I wish him every bit of luck in West Sussex. Keep smiling Steve.”

The firefighter has now joined West Sussex Fire Station as Group Commander for their Eastern Response Group.